Monday, June 6, 2011

Small World















It's our last day in Napa Valley and this morning we got a nice surprise. While drinking my morning coffee and checking my email, I receive a message from Matt and Nancy, a super nice couple that we had met along the way a few weeks back in Utah. It turns out that they also happen to be in Napa, even at the same campground we're at. I can't believe it, what a coincidence! I had no idea they were here, as well as they didn't know either. I even passed their 5th wheel the day before, thinking about them and thinking that a lot of people were buying the same trailer they had. haha. I just didn't see their car and didn't know they were in this area. Last time we heard from them, they were in Lake Mead close to Vegas. We had been slacking to update our blog for a few days, but finally updated it the night before. Matt happened to check our blog and realized we were both in Napa. Otherwise we probably wouldn't have run into each other. So after reading the email, Tommy and I walk across the campground and knock on their door. Surprise :) We talk for a while and then make plans to go mountain biking in the afternoon. The wifi at the campground is really bad, so Tommy and I drive to a coffee shop in town, work there until the afternoon, then sneak in a little wine tasting (since we still had to buy a couple gifts for people) and then return just in time for our bike ride. There's some nice trails right off the campground and off we go. Matt is a really experienced and fast rider, Tommy and I struggle to keep up with him. Probably not a great idea to go wine tasting right before mountain biking :) We still have a lot of fun, get a good work out, ride through some beautiful landscape and even see a group of wild turkeys. We stop and Matt and Tommy gobble at them, the turkeys gobble back a couple of times and then just look at us confused and walk away. We finish the ride, freshen up and then go over to Matt and Nancy's 5th wheel for dinner. Matt is making his mom's pizza recipe from scratch. And it's delicious. We share a lot of laughs, insights and hear about each others adventures on the road. What a great night! Our trip is almost over and I get a little sad thinking about that. Matt and Nancy have been on the road for 15 months and they still have a few months left before returning to their home in Connecticut. There seem to be two groups of people that chose to live like that. Most of them are retired, but then there's also a small community of younger people like us that take a break from their regular lives, leave everything behind to live their dreams. We are lucky to be part of that, even if it's just for a little while. It truly is an amazing experience. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Napa (Day 2) Wine














We drank a little too much last night. Well, okay wait, I drank a lot too much last night. We rolled out of bed.. actually I think I fell out of bed, and then we ate a little breakfast with Shari and David. We decided that going wine tasting would be too much for our poor livers. So we drove up to a cute little town above Napa called St. Helens instead. We walked down the main street and looked at some different shops and galleries for a while and then we went to a little mexican restaurant and had lunch. St Helens is a really adorable little town, there were a few too many Napa-y older yuppies but otherwise it had a great feeling there.

After lunch we decided that our kidneys could probably handle a little bit of wine, so we looked for a winery; which, as you might have heard, aren't very hard to find here in Napa. We tasted a few wines and chatted for a while, having a great time. It was really nice to see Shari and David again. The last time I had seen them was over a year ago after I had gone up to Redding to spend time with my grandparents. The trip after Danielle and I had met and first talked about taking this RV trip. It's amazing how a year can feel like very long and very short all at the same time. 

Buckets. You might be wondering why there are buckets in the picture. We bought a little Redwood sapling, which we've cleverly named 'Red.' After we bought our little Red we decided that we wanted to try and find some buckets to plant him in when we get settled in Flagstaff. When we got to the winery we saw that they were selling barrel halves for $20, which sounded like a great deal! It was only after we had them in the car that we realized our folly.. it really, really, really feels like you're actually sitting inside a wine glass. I hope that the smell leaves our car once the buckets leave. We both have headaches, like we've drunk a barrel of cheap wine.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Avenue of the Giants















It's Saturday and unfortunately our time in the Redwoods is already over. The days just flew by and although this region doesn't have one big highlight or attraction as most national Parks have, it's the overall beauty that makes it so unique. We feel like we just barely scratched the surface and both agree that it is one of the most beautiful spots on our trip. We definitely want to come back here some day. Maybe even just spend a whole month or two here. It's hard to describe but the rough coast, the giant redwood trees, the lush ferns, the misty rainy weather just gives it an overall serene and magical feel. It was a welcomed change after visiting all the busy National Parks.

Kinda sad, we pack up our stuff and get back on the Road. Our next stop is Napa Valley - wine country region just north of San Francisco. The drive takes us along the Coast and then through more Redwood Forest. We stop at the Avenue of the Giants, a particularly beautiful stretch of Redwood trees, where we go on a little half mile hike. The drive takes a lot longer then we expected. It's a very scenic drive but also a small and windy road and by the time we get to Napa it's already early evening. An hour later Tommy's friends Shari and David arrive from San Francisco to spend the night with us. I'm excited to finally meet them, since I've heard a lot about them but just never got the chance to meet them in person before. It's a really fun night! We bbq outside, drink a lot of beer and end the night with a few matches of Sequence.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Patrick's Point (Day 5) More Rain...












See how gloomy the picture looks? Yeah, this is what we've been dealing with for the past four days, now you have to deal with it too. :P

Danielle and I were stuck inside pretty much the whole day. The beauty right outside the windows tormented us the whole time. It's so green here, so lush and magical. It finally let up in the evening and we decided to just go take a walk on the beach before dinner. This was our last day here in the Redwoods and we didn't want it to end with us sitting here in the RV with all this beauty surrounding us.

We found this really nice stretch of beach and walked along for an hour or so. The beaches up here in Northern California are a lot of fun to explore. It was low tide, so you get to see all the things that the ocean coughs up. We found a good half dozen un-broken sand dollars and shells. We also found this little section of the shore where there were thousands of little tiny pieces of drift wood. They were so interesting. Lot's of different types of wood and all of them whittled into different shapes by the sea. We did a lot of collecting and returned to the car with our pockets packed full of little treasures.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Patrick's Point (Day 4) Mud Wrestling














We got up this morning and quickly realized that for the first time during our stay in the Redwoods, the sky showed little evidence of rain. So we got some things finished with work and then got our bike stuff ready and went out to try this 19-mile loop Danielle had found online. When we read this description for the Prairie Creek Ossagon Trail we were chomping at the bit to go ride it:

'One section of trail is a doubletrack passing through a lush dense forest. Another section is a primitive singletrack struggling to avoid being overtaken by grasses at the edge of a coastal marsh while passing along the base of a rocky bluff with views of small waterfalls framed in five-finger ferns. Still another section of singletrack passes through a grove of giant redwoods. Expect to see elk browsing in the meadows and marshes at the base of the bluffs.'

Everything in that description was spot on accurate. It was hands down the most beautiful ride we've ever done. Every mile of the trail was breathtaking. We saw a lot of elk, ferns, huge grasses where the trail almost disappears, frogs, waterfalls, redwoods, the ocean, dodged the dare-devil banana slugs who were crossing the trail. The one thing we also saw a LOT of was mud, tons of it. We got stuck in it a lot. But it actually kind of made for a fun ride.. it was a little challenging trying to ride through it, but I have to admit, I felt pretty manly emerging from a forest covered in mud. I'm not sure if Danielle felt as manly as I did but it was a damn good day today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hunting for the elusive empty peak






















Somehow when I was thinking of this trip, I had pictured a really relaxing time. 2 Months sounded like an eternity and to prevent boredom we packed tons of books and games. I pictured myself sleeping in, having coffee in front of the RV every morning, going on long hikes and ummmm work a bit too of course. To my astonishment, we don't ever sleep in, I've barely had time to get my hands on any books and we only had time for a few game nights! Well, I think I was a bit in denial that this trip isn't so much a vacation as it is life on the road including work. I keep forgetting this and get disappointed when I get stuck taking care of my work load, when I would rather be outside exploring. Today was one of those busy days again. We got up early, had breakfast inside of the RV in front of our computers as usual… checked emails and began the work day early. It's been raining off and on for the past few days and I got really excited when the sun started peaking out later morning. After lunch I started getting really antsy, moving around in my seat. Seeing the emerald forest right in front of our Panorama windows, with the sun peaking through was just too much to look at. I decided to take a break and go for a walk before the rain would start up again. Tommy was too busy with work, so he stayed at the RV. I jumped in the car and drove down to the beach just 10 minutes from here. The closest town to our campground is called Trinidad, a cute little place with a few shops, a gas station, a couple restaurants and a small harbor. The coastline around here is truly spectacular, offering some amazing views. I found a small little overgrown trail winding around the little peninsular that forms the very tip of Trinidad. There were several lookout spots that had benches, where you could sit down and enjoy the view…which I did. One of the benches had a memorial plaque dedicated to a guy named Scott Andrew Ross who died at the age of 31 while surfing on this beach. It had a really nice poem on it, that read:

Looking beyond the crowds the search continues.
Hunting for the elusive empty peak.
Not wanting to become part of the masses not needing the safety of numbers.
There's one who ventures out.
At ease and finding peace in the rhythmic bobbing of the lonesome lineup.

I started wondering what kind of person this guy was and how sad it is that he died at such a young age. At least he was happy, doing what he loved. It made me think of all the good things in my life and that I really shouldn't get upset about the little things. Like being stuck working in an RV in an amazing place! After all I got to go on this amazing trip and see a lot of amazing things. Even if I didn't get to be lazy, sleep in every morning, read tons of books and play boards games every night, it's still been one of the best experiences in my life. So cheers to that!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life is what you make it






















Life doesn't always go as smooth as you want it to. Walking through the beautiful Red Wood Forest today, we got dumped on by rain again. I look at my surroundings and all I see is this beautiful lush green, rain forest-like environment around me. It's so gorgeous here, but I feel annoyed and wish it just wouldn't be raining! Shortly after thinking this I realize that without all the rain, there wouldn't be any tall Red Wood trees, moss growing on branches and fern winding around tree stems. I feel silly complaining about the rain so I decide to just enjoy being out here, breathe in the fresh crisp air and try to appreciate what I have a little more.

When we were driving from Redding to Patrick's Point yesterday, I was listing to an Episode of "This American Life". They had an interesting contribution on dreams and wishes that made me think of how lucky I've been throughout my life. There have been at least 3 big dreams that came true for me. When I was a little girl, my biggest dream was to have my own horse. We didn't really have money for one, but somehow things fell into place and when I was 14 I ended up with my own horse. Maybe I was just spoiled, or maybe it was my tenaciousness to make things happen but what seemed unreachable to me at that time became reality. I also have to say, I really really have to thank my mom for everything she's done for me, because without her my dream would have never come true. 

A few years later into my teenage years I started dreaming of living in the US. I never stopped thinking of it until, again it came true or somehow I made it happen and ended up moving to California. Part of my longing for coming to the US had to do with the incredible landscape this country has to offer. Traveling around and experiencing all this, has been another dream of mine. Working in the US though seems a lot harsher than in Germany. The meager 2 weeks vacation that are standard over here just left me enough time to make a quick annual trip back home to Germany. So after graduating from school and working for a design agency I saw my dreams of traveling for an extended period of time dwindling pretty quickly. But again after putting up with a bad job for a few years, getting laid off and being pretty frustrated in general about where my life was going, things fell into place. I met Tommy, I got a new job and a whole new life opened up to me. We started planning a life together, started dreaming together and started making those dreams come true. Sometimes I wonder if it's just pure luck or if I myself make all the good things in my life happen. Maybe it's both, but I think it's important not to be discouraged too easily if things don't work out perfectly and rather trust that things will fall into place in some way or another if you work for it. Just remember "Life is what you make it" or how you would say in German "Jeder ist seines eigenen Gl├╝ckes Schmied".